East Asia Theater
Human Rights Watch on Nov. 12 accused the corporate sponsors of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics of ignoring China's crimes against humanity in its far western region of Xinjiang, thus "squandering the opportunity" to pressure China to address its "appalling human rights record." Coca-Cola, Intel, Toyota and Airbnb are among the 13 Olympic Partners who were accused by name of overlooking China's mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups, as well as the repression of free speech in Hong Kong.
In Episode 97 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg dissects the geopolitics of the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, and how the Daniel Craig reboot of the series has finessed the cultural icon's role in the New Cold War. Famously, the film was produced pre-pandemic, with its release postponed a year due to the lockdown—and its key plot device is a mass biological warfare attack, anticipating the conspiranoid theories about COVID-19. Yet it could also be prescient in warning of a superpower confrontation over the Kuril Islands—disputed by Russia and Japan, and an all too likely flashpoint for global conflict.
A Hong Kong district court on Oct. 25 found delivery worker-turned-activist Ma Chun-man guilty of incitement to secession for his actions at over 20 protests and in several interviews last year. Famously dubbed "Captain America 2.0" by local news media for dressing like the comic-book character at demonstrations, Ma is the second person to be convicted under China's Law on Protection of National Security of Hong Kong. He was charged under articles 20 and 21 for advocating "separating Hong Kong from China, unlawfully changing its legal status or surrendering it to foreign rule."
The first "patriots only" vote under Hong Kong's new political system was held Sept. 19, to choose members for a 1,500-member Election Committee—although only some 360 of the seats were actually contested. Voting was restricted to some 5,000 individuals representing different professions and industries, chosen under a principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong." Members were vetted by the newly formed Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, appointed from Beijing. The Election Committee is tasked with electing 40 members of the enlarged 90-seat Legislative Council in December as well as choosing the city's new chief executive next March. The new and more controlled electoral system was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote at the fourth session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing this March. (HKFP, China Daily, China.org.cn, Xinhua, Kyodo, RFA)
Four key members of the group behind Hong Kong's annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil were arrested Sept. 8. The arrests came the morning after the activists publicly refused a police demand for information as part of a "national security" probe into the 32-year-old group. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China said its vice-chair Chow Hang-tung and committee members Simon Leung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan To-wai were arrested in the early-morning raid on the June 4 Memorial Museum. Police confirmed the arrests, saying the four, aged between 36 and 57, are being held for failing to comply with Article 43 of the National Security Law, which compels cooperation with investigations. The police had requested information from the group in a letter late August under provisions of Article 43. The force also alleged that the group had been working with foreign agents, a potential violation of the Beijing-imposed legislation. (HKFP, The Guardian)
Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Aug. 2 charged pro-democracy activist Au Nok-hin and Cantopop singer Wong Yiu-ming, AKA Anthony Wong, with "corrupt conduct" for allegedly breaching election laws by having Wong perform two songs at a rally for Au in his 2018 run for the Legislative Council. The ICAC cited provisions of the Elections Corrupt & Illegal Conduct Ordinance, which define as corrupt conduct meeting "all or part of the cost of providing food, drink or entertainment for another person for the purpose of inducing a third party to vote or not vote for a particular candidate at an election." Hong Kong's Department of Justice withdrew the charges against the pair two days after Wong was arrested, but they were both placed under a "bind-over order." Under terms of the order, they each put up a $2,000 bond and will face no criminal charges if they maintain "good behavior" for a period of 24 months. "Hongkongers keep singing, Hongkongers keep going," Wong told reporters as he left the courtroom.
Satellite images have revealed that China is building two new nuclear missile silo fields. The Federation of American Scientists reports that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) appears to be constructing new missile silos near Yumen, Gansu province, and at another site some 380 kilometers to the northwest, near Hami in Xinjiang. The construction at Yumen and Hami constitutes the most significant expansion ever of China's inter-continental ballistic missile silos. China has for decades operated about 20 silos for its DF-5 ICBMs. With 120 silos under construction at Yumen, another 110 at Hami, a dozen silos at Jilantai, Inner Mongolia, and possibly more being added in existing DF-5 deployment areas, the PLARF appears to have approximately 250 silos under construction—more than 10 times the number of ICBM silos currently operational in China.
In Episode 78 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg offers a report and analysis of the "100 Years of Chinese Communist Party Oppression" rally outside the Chinese consulate in New York City, jointly organized by groups including Project Black Mask Hong Kong, Students for a Free Tibet, the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress NY-NJ, and the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center. But amid all the cries to free Hong Kong, free Tibet, free East Turkestan and free Southern Mongolia, it was only Tiananmen Square massacre survivor Fengsou Zhou of the group Humanitarian China who raised the demand "Free China!" Will liberation of the Hongkongers, Tibetans, Uyghurs and Southern Mongolians be possible without building solidarity against the dictatorship with Han Chinese? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.